View Full Version : Color of fabric for Cuffs & Collars
04-01-2008, 10:26 PM
I realize I've asked this before, but it was on The Sewing Academy. :???:
I have a dress, where the background color is Green and the flowers are a sort of beige or pale yellow. I wanted to know if I still use white cotton for the cuffs and collar or can I use a beige or off white??
04-01-2008, 11:58 PM
Go with white, unless someone can document a choice of beige. The point behind collars and cuffs was that they were the areas most apt to get dirty, so the separate collars and cuffs could be removed and washed, without needing to wash the whole dress (or the whole shirt, for a man). Therefore, they'd be soaked and scrubbed to become as white as possible, and if they started out beige they'd soon turn white from laundering. Or, white ones might turn dingy beige from poor laundering--but that's not an outcome to be desired in the period.
04-02-2008, 02:11 AM
Go with white. Dittos with Hank. I've yet to find (in 14 years of looking) references to deliberately off-white collars/cuffs. Remember, it's not a "coordinate with my dress" thing, it's a "gosh, it's easier to wash this little piece of white cotton than it is to soak and scrub my whole 8-yard dress!" thing. White-white equals clean and tidy, and clean-tidy equals good moral standing, and that equals good reputation and social acceptance. All things you want.
04-02-2008, 11:41 AM
Just a bit of a curious question here, now when reading Godey's, Peterson's, or Emerson's Monthly Magazines, I've found suggestions of wearing "blonde", either with laces or trims (insert pieces or eyelet), and I think also collars and cuffs. Wouldn't this suggest to you an off-white color?:confused: The only other color that I can recall is black which is used for mourning.
04-02-2008, 01:12 PM
During the period, "blonde" refers to a type of lace. I don't have my files at this location; I'll post the exact definition this evening. Blonde lace can be a shade of white or black. You could have white "blonde", blonde "blonde" or black "blonde" lace.
However, lace collars and cloth collars are two different things. I agree with Hank and Liz. My references for cloth collars refer to white - not beige.
04-02-2008, 01:30 PM
I believe that "blonde" in this case, even when used alone, refers to what we'd call a type of lace. From Encyclopaedia Britannica: "originally, bobbin lace made in France in the 18th century from unbleached pale beige Chinese silk. Subsequently, the term blonde was extended to cover lace made of bleached silk (white blonde) and black-dyed silk (black blonde)."
I've seen "black blonde" lace mentioned in the period, and "white blonde" also, but I don't know if they're using "white" merely to distinguish it from black, or if they truly mean bleached compared to unbleached. Regardless, though, I don't know if the bleached or unbleached was more common as trim for collars and cuffs. Hopefully someone can comment more on that.
But I think the main issue is that "blonde," even if it meant unbleached, would be referring specifically to lace, and not the base fabric of the collars and cuffs. If the lace was supposed to be unbleached, it would be washed more delicately and that would be acceptable, whereas unbleached fabric wouldn't.
Have you seen "blonde" used in such a way that it clearly means a fabric color rather than a type of lace?
Edited to add: obviously I cross-posted with Carolann! Carolann, do you know if unbleached blonde or white blonde was more common or preferred on collars and cuffs?
04-02-2008, 02:14 PM
Unbleached blonde has a very distinctive color - very similar to Nankeen. Based on my research and observation of extant examples, bleached blonde was more common. Depending on how the lace is whitened, bleach blonde can include shades of white, cream or ivory - but not tan, beige, ecru or yellow.
04-02-2008, 02:30 PM
Ladies Self-Instructor 1853 (Yes, granted a bit late, but I thought it interesting, no mention of color):confused:
"Collars -- These are so numerous and various, both in their shapes and materials, that to give particular examples in a hand-book in impossible. The general principles in all are the same; they are worn as a finish to the dress, and should be made to site as neatly upon the neck and shoulders as possible. Velvet, silk, net, lace, and various kinds of muslin, are the materials employed; they are made plain, and with worked edges, square-cornered, or in a semi-circular form, as best suits the taste of the wearer, and the purpose they are intended to answer. They are sometimes made with a small collar to turn down upon a larger one; neat ones are made of clear muslin, with a border of braid laid on in various tasteful devices."
Dictionary of Costume & Fashion - 1958
"Blond or blonde - color, slightly darker and grayer than beige, a silk bobbin lace originally the color of raw silk or blond hair, but now usually bleached white or dyed black.
Blonde lace - Silk bobbin lace, closely woven, originally in white and cream colors only. In the trade, silk bobbin lace of any color.
Blonde net - washable cotton net, similar to but finer than bobbinet.
Myself, I'd stick with the white, but I'm still curious that when I read silks of fawn or blonde, I always think of an off-white/beige. The other thing that jumps out in my mind is that the styles of collars, although often featured in monthly magazines, were so common that little detail is given simply because they were considered second nature to women at the time.
04-02-2008, 07:03 PM
Thank you Ladies & Hank :)
I purchased my white 100% Cotton this evening and will hopefully be ept enough to create a simply collar and cuffs set for my new dress.
Wish me luck! ;)
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